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APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2016, 7:30 P.M.
COMMISSION CHAMBERS
  (return  to index)
 
 
  1. Vice-Chair Holtrop called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
     
  2. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commissioner Jones.
     
  3. Roll Call:
    Members Present: Bill Benoit, Emily Bridson,Dan Holtrop, Sandra Jones, Mike Pemberton, Frank Vander Hoff, 
    Members Absent: Garrett Fox and Johngerlyn Young (with notification) and Ed Kape
    Others Present:  Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Staff and Secretary Monique Collier
     
    Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Benoit, to excuse Fox, Young and Kape from the meeting.                                   
  4. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  5. Fox Young and Kape absent -
     
  6. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
     
    Motion by Commissioner Pemberton, supported by Commissioner VanderHoff, to approve the Minutes of October 25, 2016.
     
  7. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  8. Fox, Young and Kape -
  9. Approval of the Agenda
     
    Motion by Commissioner Pemberton, supported by Commissioner Jones                              to approve the agenda for the November 7, 2016 meeting.
     
  10. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  11. Fox, Young and Kape -
     
  12. Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
     
    There was no public comment.
     
  13. Old Business
     
    There was no Old Business
     
     
  14. Public Hearing
     
    Case#16-16 – City of Kentwood 44th Street Rezoning – Rezoning of .25 acres of land from C-4 Office to R1-D Single Family Residential Located on the south side of 44th Street between Madison and Julivan
     
    Schweitzer stated approximately 13 years ago 44th Street, between Division and Eastern Avenue was reconstructed from a narrow four lane roadway to a four lane boulevard. He stated the City now has ownership of the residual frontage properties. He stated the neighboring property owners expressed a desire to acquire the properties. Schweitzer stated they see this as improving the value of their property and when they combine the property they will have the same zoning and the opportunity to have fencing that could be extended within 17 feet of the ROW on 44th Street. Schweitzer stated they would be able to expand upon their houses, their garage areas and they can create more of a rear yard. He stated a lot of things would open up for them. Schweitzer stated the area is Master planned residential.
     
    Discussion ensued regarding other City owned properties on 44th Street the city will evaluating in the near future.
     
    Schweitzer stated the recommendation to the City Commission to approve rezoning the properties addressed 4406 Madison and 424 44th from C-4 Office to R1-D Single family residential as described in his memo
     
    Holtrop opened the public hearing.
     
    There was no public comment.
     
    Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Pemberton to close the public hearing.
     
  15. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  16. Fox, Kape and Young absent –
     
    Motion by Benoit, supported by VanderHoff,to recommend to the City Commission approval of the request of the City of Kentwood to rezone the properties addressed 4406 Madison and 424-44th Street from C-4 Office to R1-D Single Family Residential as described in Case #16-16. Approval is conditioned upon basis points 1-7 as described in Schweitzer’s memo dated October 26, 2016.
     
  17. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  18. Fox, Kape and Young absent -
  19. Work Session
     
    Case #17-16 - Christian Rec Center Rezoning – Rezoning of 120.99 acres of land from R1-A Estate Residential to OS Open Space Located at 3450 36th Street SE; (On Hold)
     
     Case #18-16 – Verizon Wireless Project #14359 – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for wireless communication tower Located at 3450 36th Street SE (On Hold)
    Schweitzer stated these two projects are on hold due to the amount of the deferred assessments that would be activated if the property were to be rezoned and developed. The Christian Athletic complex has decided to put the project on hold.
     
    Case#19-16Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments
     
    Schweitzer stated the first set of amendments pertains to signs. He stated when the Mayor was elected he had a lot of conversation with residents as well as those that operate businesses. He received a lot of feedback regarding our sign regulations. In December of 2015 the Planning Department sent out 593 emails to businesses, City Commissioners, Planning Commissioners, and Zoning Board of Appeals members asking that they fill out a short five question survey relating to the City of Kentwood’s sign regulations.  The survey was intended to provide awareness of the City’s current sign regulations and acquire feedback.  The City received 130 completed surveys.
     
    Schweitzer stated the survey allowed respondents to provide comments on the question and the most common theme was that the limitation on the number of wall signs and freestanding sign was too restrictive.  Based on the responses, staff is not recommending any changes to the number of permanent sign regulations at this time.  However, there may be some merit to modify the formula used to compute the allowable size of the freestanding signs in the commercial zone districts while maintaining the current maximum allowable size at 100 square feet.  The modified formula would allow for slightly larger signs while maintaining the same maximum allowance. Schweitzer stated when you qualify for a 100 square feet you have to have about 240-250 feet of frontage to get that. We want to keep the cap but on the smaller lots it will give them a little bit larger sign. Schweitzer gave examples of what this proposed change would mean.
     
    Holtrop questioned how this would affect the Bretwood Mall signage. Schweitzer stated they are at the max, although in the commercial PUD zone there is allowance for the City Commission to allow for deviations beyond our current allowances.
     
    Schweitzer stated the second sign survey question regarded the City’s temporary sign allowance, more specifically the amount of time which is allowed for the display of such signs.  The City currently allows up to 30 days of temporary sign display per calendar year per property.  It has been expressed in comments received over the years that 30 days of display is not sufficient and that the ability for a single tenant in a multi-tenant building to use the entire 30 days is an issue of concern.
     
    Schweitzer stated based on the responses, staff feels it would be appropriate to consider an increase in the overall numbers of days for temporary sign display on a given property from 30 to 50 days and to limit the duration of a given permit to no more than 10 days at a time.  Staff would also like to amend the temporary sign provisions to require that a copy of the permit is posted on the sign.  This provision is intended to expedite the ordinance enforcement process by making it clearer in the field whether a permit was secured and the term of the permit.
     
    Holtrop questioned for a single business whether we make them take out 5 permits instead of one. Schweitzer stated that the draft language would require a separate permit for each 10 day display.
     
    VanderHoff questioned if they would get charged a permit fee each time. Schweitzer stated yes. VanderHoff stated we should discuss the fee. He questioned why penalize the businesses for each 10 day period. He stated it is difficult for businesses to stay in business let alone without additional fees. VanderHoff stated we need to give the fee some thought. Holtrop stated when you get a multi-tenant building then you get multiple tenants who can use the 10 days each. Schweitzer stated we can see if we can devise something as we go from work session to public hearing for a single tenant building. The fee structure is set by the city commission therefore the planning commission could prepare a recommendation.
     
    Bridson stated it would be helpful to know how often sign violations are an issue. Schweitzer stated we can put together a history in the last several years as far as how much enforcement activity we have taken for this provision of the ordinance.
     
    Schweitzer stated the third sign survey question regarded the City’s allowance for electronic display and how often the message is permitted to change. The regulations currently restrict the electronic sign display to a static message which cannot change more than once every five (5) minutes. Schweitzer stated based on the survey responses and research on how other communities address electronic messages, staff feels that decreasing the interval between messages to one (1) minute is reasonable. This will also apply to any digital billboard in the community.
     
    Benoit questioned the brightness of the electronic signs. Schweitzer stated we do have a requirement for limitation of brightness and it is relative to the ambient light levels. Discussion ensued regarding different signs in the community. Schweitzer stated we have gone back to the different sign company’s that put the LED lights in and we have found that there is a sensor in a couple of them that was malfunctioning. Benoit stated Tommy’s Express on 28th Street is extremely bright. Pemberton stated the Chiropractic on East Paris is too.
     
    Schweitzer stated the next amendment would be parking restrictions in residential areas. We make allowance for commercial vehicles to be parked in residential areas. During a recent informal hearing before the 62B District Court Magistrate it was made evident that the city needs to update the size/weight standards of what is considered allowable commercial vehicle parking in residential zone districts.  The scope of the parking and loading provisions of the Zoning Ordinance relate to all zoning districts for the off-street parking facilities for the storage and parking of self-propelled motor vehicles for the use of occupants, employees and patrons of the buildings.  However, certain restrictions were specified to establish and maintain suitable, sound and stable residential environments.  Aside from specifically restricting heavy equipment, semi-tractors and/or trailers in residential areas, the current way to generally classify the type of commercial vehicles restricted in a residential area or district is based on the rated capacity of the vehicle.  After researching how other communities address this issue we feel that outside parking and storing of commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, would be the most effective way to restrict the types of commercial vehicles allowed in residential areas or districts.  Examples of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less would include: Dodge Ram 1500 and 2500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2500, Ford F-150 and F-250, Ford Excursion and Chevrolet Suburban 2500.  Examples of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more would include: Dodge Ram 3500, Ford E-350 and F-350, GMC Sierra 3500 and Hummer H1
     
    Holtrop questioned the definition of a commercial vehicle. Schweitzer stated if you have a company logo on the side. Discussion ensued.
     
    VanderHoff stated he disagrees with the weight of the F350. Schweitzer stated according to his resources the gross vehicle weight was 10,000. Discussion ensued VanderHoff stated he doesn’t think we will have a problem with anybody being over 10,000 pounds.
     
    Schweitzer stated the next zoning ordinance amendment deals with front yard setback requirements. Schweitzer stated up until 2002 the Kentwood Zoning Ordinance contained a provision that allowed the consideration of existing setback lines in the determination of the required building front yard setback.  In the aftermath of the tornado of 2014 a number of homeowners had to undertake substantial reconstruction of homes built during a time where the minimum front yard setback was much less than required under the current zoning requirements.  While zoning board variances were secured, the need for this review process and the associated time delay would not have been necessary had the former provision been retained.
     
    Schweitzer stated having this provision allows for a rebuild especially in an established area so that it is comparable with everybody else and they don’t have more stringent requirements.
     
     
    Schwetizer stated the next zoning ordinance amendment is industrial side yard requirements. The industrial building side yard requirements in the City of Kentwood Code of Ordinances reflects a minimum 25 foot dimension rather than the 20 foot dimension that has been in place and enforced upon since at least 1976. This is just an effort to clean this up.
     
    Schweitzer stated the next zoning ordinance amendment deals with swimming pool cover allowance The State Building Code contains a new reference to the 2015 International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC) that allows for motorized pool covers meeting certain design criteria to forego the need to fence the back yard area where the pool may be located. The City of Kentwood needs to amend the Swimming Pools and Other Similar Structures Zoning Ordinance provisions to maintain compliance with the State Building Code.
     
    VanderHoff stated it is a great idea to have a motorized pool cover, but it does no good if you don’t close it.
     
    Pemberton stated the fence never goes away.
     
    Benoit gave a brief overview of the rationale for the pool requirements that are based on a child 8 years old or younger.
     
    Schweitzer stated the next zoning ordinance amendment deals with the Sale of Motor Vehicles Section 66-63 of the Municode was recently amended to more effectively address the issue of the display of motor vehicles for sale on private property.  To avoid conflict and maintain consistency with the regulatory provisions of the Municode we recommend amending the Repair and/or Sale of Motor Vehicles Zoning Ordinance provisions. This will allow up to the sale of two vehicles on a property within a calendar year. They can sell their own vehicle and not be considered a business.
     
    Schweitzer stated the next text amendment is preparation  of Landscape Plans. Section 19.02 of the Zoning Ordinance addresses landscape plan specifications.  The introduction of this section specifies that the landscape plan shall be prepared by a registered landscape designer.  The State of Michigan does not have a registration for landscape designers, instead they do have a licensure for landscape architects.  We therefore recommend amending the Zoning Ordinance to be consistent with the State of Michigan professional qualification requirements.
     
    Schweitzer stated the next text amendment Restaurants and Other Establishments with Drive-in or Drive-Through Facilities The Special Land Use site design standards for Restaurants and Other Establishments with Drive-in or Drive-Through Facilities including retail and financial institutions currently specify a minimum 50 foot setback for all principal and accessory buildings from the adjacent public right-of-way or property line.  Since the major reasons for the setback is minimize disturbance to adjacent properties and to assure for minimum stacking for vehicles exiting the site staff recommends referencing the setback to the “point of drive-through transaction” instead of the “principal and accessory buildings”.
     
Schweitzer stated the next text amendment relates to Regional Commercial District Development Requirements The area in and around Woodland Mall is zoned C-3 Regional Commercial.  The intent and purpose of this zoning is to provide commercial goods and services of a regional nature, serving areas both within and outside the City.  There are some very distinctive characteristics associated with the Woodland Mall area that continue to warrant this exclusive zoning designation.  Of particular note are the large enclosed mall, the expansive common parking areas, a well-defined internal traffic circulation system and consolidated points of access onto the adjacent State trunklines, M-11 (28th Street) and M-37 (East Beltline).  As the Mall continues to redevelop it would be desirable to either reconsider specific development requirements or establish a mechanism to afford the Planning and City Commission more flexibility in the application of the codes.
Staff recommends the creation of a mechanism, similar to that within our Planned Unit Development zones, to enable the City Commission to consider the waiver or alteration of specific development requirements for Woodland Mall.  To accomplish this action, we suggest broadening the scope of the definition of a Regional Shopping Center to distinguish the enclosed Woodland Mall and its associated parking and internal circulation from the balance of the freestanding buildings and outlots.  In addition, review standards will be specified to evaluate requests for waiver or alteration of development requirements.
 
Schweitzer stated he will get modifications to the temporary sign provisions and a few enforcement activities. He stated he will clean things up and have it ready for the public hearing.
 
Holtrop stated he notices flags everywhere and questioned if they need permits. Schweitzer stated the only exception, and the interest of being business friendly, we have relaxed the enforcement for temporary sign permits if they are advertising a job vacancy.
 
Discussion ensued. Benoit point out there is a difference in a business putting their signs out that they are hiring however, with an employment agency that is their job.
 
  1. New Business
     
           There was no New Business
     
  2. Other Business
     
  3. Commissioners’ Comments
     
    Bridson was concerned about parking of trailers in residential area.  Schweitzer stated recreation vehicles cannot be parked in the front yard setback of the property. Bridson asked about cars. Schweitzer stated the ordinance requires cars to be a on a paved surface.
     
    Pemberton stated the 36th Street Storage facility east of East Paris they need enforcement action. There are cars and other things parked all over, right up against the fence.
     
    Holtrop questioned where the 54 trees that were approved by the city commission are going. Schweitzer stated there are primarily going in the median on 44th street from Patterson Avenue to Broadmoor.
     
  4. Staff’s Comments
     
    Staff offered no additional comments.
     
     
  5. Non-Motorized Plan
     
    Schweitzer stated the non-motorized committee has been considering adopting a non-motorized facility plan. The city commission just recently changed their policy dealing with sidewalk assessments. The City now will not assess property owners where sidewalk is put in provided that it is consistent with our non-motorized plan. Instead of being a draft plan it have to be made an adopted plan. He stated what we are going to propose to do is have at least one work session with the thought of adoption in December or January.
     
     
     
  6. Adjournment
     
    Motion by Commissioner  VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Jones,                            to adjourn the meeting.
     
  7. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  8. Fox, Young and Kape absent -
     
    Meeting adjourned at 8:30p.m.
     
     
                                                                Respectfully submitted,
     
                                                            Ed Kape, Secretary